Ah! Spring. When everything in nature seems to blossom to life. For millions of people, this means dry, itchy, irritated eyes. Ocular allergies can be a frustrating problem. The symptoms that occur may also resemble another condition, dry eye syndrome. In fact, it is possible to suffer both allergies and dry eye syndrome at the same time. It is important to know if your symptoms are more than just the common bout with allergies because this dictates the treatment of the problem.
A person affected by allergies may notice redness and excessive eye-watering, but the primary symptom of allergies is itchiness. Ocular allergies are generally harmless, caused by interaction between a trigger substance and mast cells. A histamine is released when the two make contact. This is where the itching, swelling, and redness come from. Usually, it is possible to identify allergies by finding the allergen. This may be pet dander, pollen, or dust mites, to name a few.
Tears are not something that we see only when we watch a sad movie, or when those allergies kick in. The eyes should have a slight tear film over the surface at all times. Tears are not just water. They also contain lipids and mucin. Balance is necessary for comfort. Too little lipid content and the water and mucin on the surface of the eyes will dry out too quickly. Meibomian glands produce lipids at the inner corner of the eyes which is where problems develop. Low production of lipids from these glands creates discomfort such as redness, a feeling of grittiness, or a foreign body sensation.
Know the Problem, Find the Treatment
Since there are different reasons behind allergies and dry eye syndrome, treatment varies based on the underlying problem causing eye irritation. Dry eye syndrome may require management with lubricated or medicated eye drops. Meibomian glands need to be treated, depending on the case. Allergies, on the other hand, are treated with lifestyle management (avoiding allergens when possible), and medication as needed to reduce symptoms.
Schedule a Consultation
If interested in scheduling an appointment dry eye syndrome contact, the office at 800-351-1177.